CLAS Acts January 2008

January 2008 Volume 1, Issue 5
Our Mission: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.  

CLAS Dean's Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty  

From the Dean's Desk
Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

I hope this newsletter finds you persisting in the more uplifting, or at least the more realistic, of your New Year's resolutions.  We in CLAS can face 2008 with some justified optimism--it's looking like a very good year.   At a recent Michigan deans' roundtable, we learned that our 42 searches this year are by far the most, about double, of the liberal arts and sciences colleges at any of the other institutions around that table (EMU, CMU, etc.) and that we advertised those searches ahead of almost everyone else.  A great deal of credit goes to the Provost for that!  Lots of work went into establishing these lines and keeping the process moving forward.  Now let's see to it that we bring the best possible candidates to join us.   Not only are we bringing aboard some wonderful new faculty to ease the pinch in many departments, we have also been working to lighten our load in other ways.  The College Office is quite pleased with the amount of outdated paperwork that was properly disposed of during our CLAS Shred Fest 2007. In response to requests from departments, this new College initiative  meant that faculty and staff were offered 16 sites across the College to get rid of unneeded confidential documents.  A total of 38 bins were removed from those sites. Thank you to all who participated. We hope to offer a second Shred Fest again next summer before all of the office shuffles take place.   I am also pleased to announce that the CLAS Faculty Development Committee has completed their review of the 39 proposals for sabbatical leave. They have recommended to me approval for ALL 39. With delight, I accepted their recommendation and have forwarded all 39 proposals to Provost Davis for her consideration.   Before we turn our attention to the new year, I'd like to thank everyone for a resoundingly successful transition to final grade reporting using Banner.  When the reports had been run, late December frantic phone calls were made to very few faculty members, and the vast majority made the transition to the new system perfectly.
  In January we welcome back Associate Dean Maria Cimitile, who has just returned from a productive sabbatical--but why stay in Tuscany when you can have West Michigan in January?   Maria will dive back into her portfolio of responsibilities including assessment, facilitating the CLAS Futures Committee (which is progressing the strategic plan), working with the CLAS Curriculum Committee, assisting in the design of the new CLAS Advising Center, seeing faculty candidates, and teaching a course.  But a word of thanks and recognition is due to Interim Associate Dean Sherril Soman.  We are very grateful to her for handling this challenging position with great aplomb and with her sense of humor intact. Sherril will continue to do some project work for the College, including the prerequisite checking and the development of an interdisciplinary pharmacology proposal.  But if you see Sherril, by all means thank her for her devoted work and wonderful accomplishments in Fall Semester.   In January, Associate Dean Gary Stark will be checking on low-enrolled courses and facilitating the personnel review and salary adjustment processes.  Associate Dean Jann Joseph will be teaching HNR 242, supporting three grant writing groups in CLAS, supporting remodels in PAD, working on faculty start up requests with Pat Haynes and me, assigning offices, working with Facilities on layout of spaces in the NAB, beginning the work toward the 2008 Sabbatical Showcase, reviewing proposals from APs for professional development funds, and providing liaison to the FDC.  I enjoyed teaching an argumentation class during the Fall semester, and have begun thinking about a campaigns course for Fall '08 that I'll team-teach with Professor Danielle Wiese.  Short term, though, it'll be my assignment, and my pleasure, to interview upwards of 100 candidates for faculty positions.  I know we'll bring in great people.   They say you should start as you intend to finish.  We're off to a very good start to 2008, which I hope is a very happy and productive year for you; let's make it a great year for our students!       

Featured Faculty  

Cabeza de Chorlito, a Spanish e-Magazine 
By Zulema Moret, Nina Namaste and Maria Villalobos-Buehner (MLL)

Cabeza de Chorlito is an interdisciplinary project resulting in an e-magazine. The Magazine was created as a tool of communication between GVSU students, faculty, and readers from other colleges and universities. This pedagogical resource promotes the writing, reading and exchange of ideas and opinions. This is our third year and we published one issue per year, with the collaboration of an assistant student. This year our assistant student is Mallory Morell. The idea was born in the Spanish Section of Modern Languages and Literatures between Prof. Natalia Gómez and Prof. Zulema Moret, to promote writing, reading and learning of culture in different Spanish courses. In the two years since its inception, support has been received from the PEW Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, which provided a grant to pay our assistant student. The name of the Magazine was chosen by group of students and means "the head of an artist, a poet, who is in someway a little out of his or her mind", but 'chorlito' also means 'small bird', so while "the head of a small bird called chorlito" would be the literal translation of the name, but recalls the extended meaning to those people who are in some way 'out of their mind' sometimes. Then, with the patient support of Ben Rapin of the web team, we designed the Magazine with two versions per issue that could be used in class as a PDF. We are very thankful to the help of so many people from Technology and our Department. The majority of the copy for these issues was produced in our classes: compositions, cultural events, interviews, chronicles, poetry, short stories, linguistic games, recipes... At the present Cabeza de Chorlito has a committee consisting of Prof. Nina Namaste, Prof. Maria Villalobos- Buehner and Prof. Zulema Moret.  At this point, we are trying to create a Committee of students to involve them in the organization of the materials, to explain the relation between the Magazine and other groups and courses, and to work as 'journalists'. If this new group works consistently then we can try to open the Magazine to other Universities and to promote the reading abroad. We believe that when somebody reads the text you wrote this text acquires a new dimension: the dimension that the act of reading gives to the text and resulting self-esteem is very important for both the writer and the reader. In the present stage of the Magazine, we plan to include material about faculty and students outside of Grand Valley, through interviews that detail their projects and aspirations. We also plan to include copy written by lower level students. Maria Villalobos-Buehner will be the main facilitator for this task considering that she is the co-coordinator of lower levels in our Department. We plan to increase our production to twice a year in the future and to include more diverse production: a bilingual section of Latin American Studies, a section on Travel and Studying Abroad, more presence for what's happening on campus and in the Hispanic Community, and a section with texts sent by foreign students particularly those in Hispanic countries. We plan to include clips, PowerPoint shows, and short student-produced videos. We invite our faculty to participate actively by expressing their interests and including their writing.  We hope they will consider Cabeza de Chorlito a tool which can be easily included in their courses. The Magazine has the potential to be a fabulous teaching tool.  The more students who submit material, the more faculty who use the website in their classes, the more potential it has to impact greatly the community.  Given our different interests, we plan diverse offerings for future issues as we try to create a larger language-learning community.